Calamine Lotion & Proximity

Calamine lotion & the importance of proximity……

“Mummy Mummy, I’ve got even more chicken spots. They’re everywhere!” 

Having found the first evidence of this particular lurgy on Saturday lunchtime, after unwittingly infecting c.20 preschoolers at gymnastics, we seem to have gone from just one little blister behind the ear, to a gazillion spread head to toe, and all in the blink of an eye. It’s clear to me already that having smugly secured the very last bottle of calamine lotion from the supermarket shelf that I’m going to need an ocean of the stuff between now and the spot-free future I’m already dreaming of.

No nursery for a week means either we leave a 4-year-old home alone with a steady supply of crisps, juice and Cbeebies or we have to pull off a masterclass in juggling, balancing the demands of work and family with the role of paediatric nurse!

Being a good parent has a lot to do with proximity, being there right next to your Little People at exactly the right moment is massively important. But I’ve got a lot of important work stuff that also needs my attention and my to do list is well stacked.

Anyway I’ve made the choice to sit on the sofa with an iPad, a mobile phone and a pile of reading and with one eye on the little person, one on Toy Story 3 and the other…..no, wait that’s way too many eyes. Anyway, I’m working out ways to get the customer-critical stuff done (and relying on other people in the business to carry on doing their bit) whilst applying aforementioned calamine lotion and administering cuddles on demand to the pink and spotty thing curled up next to me.

Before you think I’ve gone slightly mad by sharing the trials and tribulations of the Holden family with you in this way, I will leap straight to my own defence. Just as proximity matters when you’re trying to be a good parent, it matters when you’re trying to be a good boss.

When my Little People don’t get their own way and are feeling disappointed (a state often accompanied by a hissy fit), I’m there to talk them down and help them get some perspective, and to help them realise that it’s right to keep trying.

When my Little People experience a big change, like starting school or even changing teachers, I’m there to prepare them and to guide them to find a way through it, because I want them to know how to embrace change as a skill for the future.

When my Little People are ready to try something new, I hold their hands at the start, then I encourage them to have a go for themselves, and I stay close enough to cheer them on, to help them if things go wrong and to celebrate when they succeed.

Given my real life lesson in the benefits of proximity, it’s got me wondering….

What do you do to make sure you are in close proximity to your Big People at the times when they need you the most? I’m not naive enough to assume that everyone can be physically in the same room as their people at the drop of a hat. But with super-sophisticated communication methods at your disposal it is possible to be there, in virtual close proximity, even when you’re separated by geography;

Whilst my Little Person fights off a fairly commonplace childhood illness, she needs me to be close by. She’s already developed powerful influencing skills and can command my time and attention with her sad little face, and what can only be described as whimpering. I also know that what she demands is exactly what I should be providing for her, it’s not in any way unreasonable.

A challenge that you might face is that your Big People may not have such obvious symptoms as Chickenpox spots, and they may not make their demands of you in quite the same clear and direct way that a 4-year-old does, (or perhaps they do???), but their needs really aren’t so different.

Proximity is everything. If you’re not close enough to your people when they need you, and close enough to notice the symptoms when they are not as clear and obvious as Chickenpox spots, then how will you have measured up as a boss?

Image credit: Fotolia

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2 thoughts on “Calamine Lotion & Proximity

  1. Hi Bev. I often notice the similarities between parenting and leading/managing big people. Creating a vision of expectations, praising what’s good, highlighting what’s gone off track and being clear on what’s not acceptable, all are transferable either way! I’ve recently experienced the challenges of proximity. One of my team is based over 200 miles away and is the sort of person who prefers face to face communication. I manage & motivate a sales team and proximity is a challenge I’m still working on, as so much of the success I’ve experienced has been through instant feedback and discussion. The same goes for my kids; I try to work from home after school finishes, as this way their perception is that I’m there for them, even if they are closeted in their room with xbox/friends/pens and pencils etc. Anyway, Lily will be scabby soon and feeling much better I’m sure!

    • Hi Lyn,
      Brilliant to hear from you on here, thanks for adding your thoughts!

      Being divided by large distances is a reality for so many teams now – I think it’s hard to feel connected when your so infrequently in the same place. And it’s a topic that managers ask about a lot too.

      One of the clients we’ve been working with recently has started to supplement phone calls with video calls, particularly for 121 work with their team, and it sounds as if it’s started to have a positive effect on how they perceive the quality of their communication, which I hope will translate into some tangible outputs further down the line .

      I certainly get a lot of comfort, and information, from seeing people’s faces rather than just hearing their voices and I found it speeds things up when you can’t be in the same room – I love a good Google Hangout or a Skype video call!

      As for the chickenpox, I’d say we’re 80% scabby now (is that too much information?) and thanks for your ‘well wishes’ – she’s definitely perking up!!!

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